Speaker: M.Noorhoff

Christmas today is not what it used to be.

Christmas today is not what it was meant to be.


Who agrees with these two statements?

The question is how can we get back to what Christmas is really all about?

How can we make our Christmas better, more joyful, more meaningful? How can we get back to the original intent of Christmas?

Have you ever pondered over these questions? Even if you havenft, your soul certainly has and if we are to be really true to our souls we must admit these questions are within us. I dare say these questions may even be causing us pain. These are the questions I want us to consider today. These are the question that I hope, with Godfs help, we may find some answers today.

 Those with eyes, let them see

Those with ears, let them hear .

 What is it all about? What is the underlying message of the Christmas story.

We have talked about this over the last few sermons, the romance of it all, the Christmas to come when Christ returns to collect his bride. Today I hope the message will lead to more practical applications on how to make Christians better for you and all those around you.

 This is a message that God has been leading me to for what seems to be most of this year. But is that not the way He often works. He puts down one piece of the puzzle,  then the next, then the next, over a long time. This is what we talked about last time when we learned the lesson of long-waiting and patience found in Malachi. One piece then just when we are about to forget, He places another in front of you. Oh how many times he has done this in our lives. When I look back I see this over and over. When I look back over this year I see this magic that God has made to bring me to this point and give this message to you. I only hope that I can do it justice.

He led me to the Great Romance and how much God loves us and seeks us to be his beloved, his wife,. He taught me how much God is seeking to restore my relationship with him. He led me to search for things that were that are blocking me from restoring my relationship with him, making certain that there is nothing that takes priority to this. He led me to consider what brotherhood truly was and to work to restore the relationship with my own brothers. He led me to realize that I did not really know them on a deep level and that they really didnft know me. This pained me considerably Through this I also began to look at my relationship with my my family, my church family and my wife. It has been a year of change and more than that a year that has taught me how I kneed to change more. To sum up everything it was a year with the central theme being restoring relationships. Relationships are not something that are simply restored in one simple solution but are continually restored. I want you all to take a look at the relationship you have and ask yourself if you are satisfied and more so I want you the put yourself in the others shoes and ask the same question. Sometimes we think everything is just fine but in fact it is far from where it could be. We must be able to recognize this. How is your relationship with your children, husband, wife, Friend. Is it all that it could be or is it missing something. Is there anything that you can do to make it better. How can it be restored? Sometimes we must look at these relationship to help us understand our relationship with God. They may be the key to improving your faith but more than that your faith may be key to restoring those worldly relationships.

A few months ago after my return from visiting Canada I gave testimony about my brothers in morning service. I had realized during that trip that there was a wide gap between us and how difficult it was to communicate, I mean truly communicate, to share, to open our hearts to each other to bare our souls. Looking at my male friends I found the same. Inside me God was leading me to desire the kind of brotherly love the bible speaks of. It is so much different then that which we may call brotherly or fraternal love. I decided that if these relationships were to be what I wanted them to be the onus was on me to do what I could to do this. I decided to find a way to do this. One thing I decided to do is the try to keep regular contact. The easiest way for me to do this is to write letters. I can do it during my free time during the day. So I began to write a series of letters to my brothers so that I may teach them about who I am. I didnft need a reply. My brothers are not so good at communicating and it is only by the frace of God that I have become comfortable with communication. With friends I have decided to regularly e-mail. I have also decided to phone more often. I have realized that communication is one of the keys to a good relationship. We all know this but often forget to apply it to our own lives and relationships. The first thing that breaks down in a poor relationship is communication. It is not just a matter of being together but talking and sharing. This is an easy thing for many to forget especially for men And I am no better as I am often reminded by my wife. She would like to talk more for her the amount we talk is directly related to the amount I love her. Men just donft think of that sometimes and I appreciate it when my wife reminds me. For me I think she should know how much I love her. And this brings me to Christmas.

God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son. God so loved the world that he wanted to find a way for them to restore the relationship by creating a means for them to get to know each other better.

 Now how to explain this?

This country for the last few years has been in a pet boom in particular a dog boom. People are keeping these friends in record numbers. The dogs have become best friends for some people. People dress them  up in clothes and spent money taking them to expensive saloons. They spend a lot of time together but they can not really communicate. They talk to the dog but the dog doesnft really understand. It reminds me of a comic I saw years ago Underneath the comic It says what the dog hears. And it has a man talking to his dog  but all the dog hears is Blah Blah Blah Diner Blah Blah Blah Blah. There is a communication barrier. I am sure that many wish that they could really communicate with there dog. If one could give a Christmas present to a dog perhaps this would me it the ability to communicate. But to do this you yourself would have to become a Dog or your dog would need to become a human. You would have to go to his level or him to yours.

For many years man has sought after God but so often got it wrong. You see he never were really able to understand God. It was like they spoke different languages. For God it must have felt like talking to a dog. He wanted to communicate his love for man but all man was concerned with was when diner was coming. So he had to do something drastic he had to find a bridge to enable him to communicate well for without this the relationship could not be restored. And so he decided to lower himself from the king of kings the all powerful and omnipresent God into human form. He did this so that he could begin the restoration work He was born in a stable not in a palace and he was laid in a feeding trough. He purposely took this low position so that all may come to him. He wanted to enable all to come not just the elite that would be allowed in if he were to be born in a palace. The first to come were the shepherds. To get an idea of what the shepherds are like I would say we first have to look at the sheep. Have you ever seen a sheep. I can still remember the first time I saw a sheep. I had expected a fluffy white cute animal but what I saw was a grey dirty matted smelly thing. Just looking at you would make you reconsider ever wearing a wool sweater again let alone want to eat it for diner. The shepherds were quite similar and certainly smelled similar. Not someone who would be invited to a reception at the white house or Buckingham palace.@Even in Israel, shepherds were low on the social order but these are the people that Jesus came for. He was born in a stable so that anyone could approach him He was born on earth so that we may communicate. He decided to show his love for us by coming to live among us. God knows what many of us donft that love is sometimes measured by communication and spending time together. We want sympathy and God wishes to show us his by becoming one of us.

As a parent this is a lesson I needed to learn as well. Sometimes I need to get down to their level in order to communicate with them. As an  adult I am far too frightening but when I lower myself to his level we can communicate well.

This Christmas I ask you to look around at your relationship and ask yourself are you communicating enough are you giving yourself and not just presents for the gift of yourself is greater than any present you could ever buy in a store